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Adventures in Minecraft Pt. 5

As the 2015 Snowmageddon blanketed Chicago, I found myself with time to get back to my adventures in Minecraft! Last we met I had created the start.server.command file, which actually launched the server. Next step, create the StartCanarymod. command file.

After figuring out that TextWrangler works best for writing command files, the StartCanarymod.command file was pretty easy. From there it was a matter of downloading the RaspberryJuice plugin and copying the necessary file to the Canarymod folder. The last step was to download and copy several different files to the My Adventures folder. These were included in the 1.6.4 version, so I just copied them to my new folder.

Time for the moment of truth…

Screen Shot 2015-02-01 at 6.09.46 PMAnd, we’re a go! The server, plugin and world all initialized!

Now, to test the Python and see if my server accepts the programming! Launching IDLE, I wrote my first program for Minecraft.

Screen Shot 2015-02-01 at 7.45.46 PM

Cue happy dancing! There’s my first Python programming of Minecraft! See it? Minecraft said “Hello Minecraft World”! Your first program…always an exciting time.

After several weeks of challenges, I finally have a working Canarymod Server and files to give the avtivities in Adventures in Minecraft a go!

Adventures in Minecraft…Pt. 4

So, let’s recap. I wanted a fun way to engage my students in programming and I found this awesome looking book, Adventures in Minecraft. I bought it, dowloaded the required files, tested it on my work computer and tried it on a student computer. It worked on my computer, but not on a student machine. The book provided guidance for creating your own files, so I went in search of those, only to run into a DMCA. That takes us to today (Tuesday).

Creating my own Bukkit server wasn’t an option, but the book also suggested creating a server using CanaryMod. Off to the CanaryMod site I went in search of the necessary downloads. I found and downloaded the file for MinecraftEdu 1.7.10 and pulled out the directions.



I set up my folders nad copied the files to the correct folder. The next step was to create an executable file that would launch the server. I opened TextEdit, careffully typing in the text provided. I saved the file as instructed, but it refused to save as a .command. It wanted to be a .rtf, so some manual editing of the file name was needed. File completed and placed in the correct folder. The next step ws to open Terminal, type a command and NOT press enter. Instead, I had to drag the previously made file onto Terminal then press enter. So, I did and things started to happen! Yay, it’s working, I thought. And then, the message…

No such file or directory
Unable to access jarfile Canarymod.jar

So close! I went back and checked all of the files for errors or incorrect file names. Nothing. I started over using a different text editor, but to no avail.

The one issue I noticed was the guide indicated a file path of AdventuresInMinecraft\Canarymod. Now, doesn’t a backslash in a path name indicate one level/folder up? I know I’m a bit rusty with the technical stuff, but this isn’t right. I compared all of the files and folders provided in the preconfigured Bukkit server for 1.6. Everything looked right. Okay, time to walk away for a bit.

A few days later (Thursday)…I sat down to work on this post feeling defeated. I did everything the “guide” said and things didn’t work. After all the excitement and work, I ws really disappointed nad a bit annoyed at myslef for buying a book that I couldn’t use.

While I was working on this post I took a few screenshots of what had been happening and looked through things again. Again, I typed everything as instructed, I created all the correct folders, I didn’t press enter when I shouldn’t have. I just didn’t get it. While telling my colleague what had been happening I decided to copy the start_server file from the preconfigured Bukkit server and paste that into the CanaryMod start_server file I had created. Since the text was exactly the same as the CanaryMod (with the exception of the .jar file name, which I changed) I figured it wouldn’t work. But, what the heck. Copy, paste, edit file name, save the file. Double-click the file…and…

Cue office chair happy dance and exclamations of success! The libraries were initialized! The XML database was created! The world was started!

CanaryMod Initialized


This might actually happen!

Adventures in Minecraft Pt. 3…DMCA? What!

Here’s what we know:

  • Adventures in Minecraft works on a teacher computer! Yay!
  • Adventures in Minecraft doesn’t work on the student computers! Boo!
  • Adventures in Minecraft does work with Minecraft Edu!
  • I need to build a Bukkit server compatible with MinecraftEdu 1.7. Gulp!

Creating a Bukkit server is a new challenge that I’m up for, so let’s get started.

Okay, I needed to download Bukkit…easy! I started by reading the directions. I know, imagine that! Reading the directions first. Who the heck does that. I created the required folders and searched for a Bukkit server. My Google search led me to I skimmed a few forum posts, read how to set up a server, making my way to the BukkitWiki where I found a link to the downloads (


Screen Shot 2015-01-14 at 9.50.54 AM


Alright, I’m on a roll. I click on the info for a few versions to learn about the differences. I finally located the version I needed and clicked the download button. And what do I see…


Screen Shot 2015-01-14 at 9.51.03 AM


WHAT! Confused, I do another Google search in hopes of finding the download elsewhere. But wait, this is the OFFICIAL Bukkit site!?! What’s going on? So, I read the DMCA notification and found this:


Screen Shot 2015-01-14 at 9.51.10 AM

So, this guy, Wesley Wolfe is claiming copyright on the Bukkit server. Alright then, I’ll go to his site to get the download. Highlight and copy the GitHub url…paste and we’re good! Right?


Screen Shot 2015-01-14 at 9.57.30 AM



I hit the GitHub page and skim the repositories. Several Bukkit options, so I dig in. I start with Bukkit-Bleeding. I skim through and stop at the Read Me…again with the reading thing, I know! As I read on I see…


Screen Shot 2015-01-15 at 9.59.35 PM


Ummm…did I miss something? The GitHub site is leading me back the to Bukkit site, which has a DMCA prohibiting the download of the Bukkit server files because of Wesley Wolfe’s claim on the Bukkit server.

Running into a dead end, I went back to the GitHub site to look at the other repositories. Oooh! CraftBukkit! That’s it! I click on CraftBukkit ready for my download!


Screen Shot 2015-01-14 at 10.01.28 AM

Really! How is this possible! Can you DMCA your own files? Even more confused, I clicked on the notice and see:

Screen Shot 2015-01-14 at 10.23.44 AM

On first glance I was quite confused by the fact that this person (presumably) had DMCAed his own work, but I notices the “source” is the Bukkit-Bleeding repository. I spent some time digging through the files in the Bukkit-Bleeding repository, but couldn’t find a simple .jar file to download and I don’t know how to create one myself. So, time for option two…CanaryMod.




Adventures in Minecraft Pt.2

So, where did we leave of? Oh, that’s right…to the computer lab!

As a tech admin I have greater powers than a classroom teacher and, of course, than students. As such, my excitement over writing my first Python script for Minecraft was tempered by the fact that my students might not have the permissions necessary to run all of this fun.

I scooped up my laptop and external hard drive with all of my files and settled in for some testing. Hopes were high. I pull up a student login, got signed in and copied over the Adventures in Minecraft files.

I went to launch Python and noticed it was no longer on our computers. What? Off to the tech office I trotted, donning my best smile and most pleasant voice in hopes of convincing someone to drop everything and install this software for me. Bad form on my part knowing how many people try this everyday and how often I have to gently tell someone that there are others needing more urgent assistance. But, I did it anyway. The upside is that I can download and install the sofware myself, I just needed a password! Lucky me, our tech was willing to pop in and enter the password for me.

  • Signed in as a student…check!
  • Adventures in Minecraft files…check!
  • Python…check!

Let’s do this!

I launched the Bukkit server from the Adventures In Minecraft folder and launched Minecraft…Edu version. As I mentioned before, I knew this might be an issue, but I had to try. Everything launched, but because of the way our version had been packaged students do not have access to the launch Minecraft option, only the Edu version. It’s testing, so I launched Edu and tried to connect to the Bukkit server. No dice!

Okay, our existing configuration wasn’t an option, but I knew we were almost ready to launch the 1.7 update. I scrapped my files and moved to the computer we were testng the 1.7 update on; starting the process all over.
Before I began I knew this would be a longshot, because I was using a Bukkit server for 1.6 with a computer running Minecraft 1.7.Minecraft users know what happened next. It didn’t work! No surprise since it’s already know that your server and client need to be running the same version.

Screen Shot 2015-01-14 at 2.23.08 PM_1 Screen Shot 2015-01-14 at 2.23.51 PM

So, what’s a girl to do? Make her own Bukkit server compatible with 1.7, of course!


Adventures in Minecraft Pt. 1…Maybe

At the beginning of December my coaching partner and I were busy planning Hour of Code activities. During our planning I had the opportunity to dig deeper into Python and really enjoyed my learning journey. This journey got me thinking about how I could teach an elective on Python during the next session, so I started researching ideas, projects and resources geared toward middle school student.

advInMCEduAnd what did I find? Well, the holy grail of programming electives…Adventures in Minecraft! I came across this book thinking that it could have some fun ideas for my after school MinecraftEdu class. You know, build ideas, challenges, other fun things to keep the kiddos focused. Turns out its WAY MORE that fun things to build in MCEdu, it’s about how to use Python to program Minecraft! Whoa…wait…what…? You can do that? You can actually program things in Python and have something happen IN Minecraft! I was hooked. I bought the book then and there, tossed aside the work I should have been doing and began learning how one programs Python!

As I began reading the book and downloading files from the companion website I had a sudden realization that all this may be for naught. Why, you ask? Because I am using MinecraftEdu and work in a school. Nothing every works the “way it’s supposed to” in a school. I proceeded anyway determined that it would work, one way or another! As I continued along I found that this book, published in November 2014, was already out of date (as is often the case with techie books). The book is based on Minecraft 1.6 and I’m on 1.7 MCEdu! Ugh! This isn’t going to be easy.

Skip to Friday morning…I knew my work computer was still set up for MinecraftEdu 1.6, so I downloaded and installed the necessary files to my laptop while the Chapter 1 how-to video guided me through the process. Adventures in Minecraft folder saved to the desktop, Python downloaded, Bukkit server up and running! We’re a go! With all of the setup completed, I becan my first Python program for Minecraft! Here it is!

First Python Minecraft Program

Here what is, you say? Right there, in the chat! I made that happen…WITHOUT typing it into the chat window! Okay, so that may not seem so impressive, but every programmer starting a new language must start with a Hello world! script!

With the knowledge that I could program Minecraft on a school computer as a teacher, I set off to the computer lab to see if a student could do the same. Fingers crossed!

Hour of Code

The first week of December was Computer Science Week. An excellent opportunity to recognize how programming and programmers have changed our lives. Part of CSW was Hour of Code, created to expose students to coding and computer science concepts. Last year a few classrooms in our building participated in Hour of Code. This year my co-worker and I worked to schedule Hour of Code sessions with every student in SK through 7th grade. It was a busy couple of weeks for us, but we were excited to plan out such a range of activities.

Due to the number of actual classes and the various division-wide activities, we had to split it over two weeks. So, what did we do? Below are descriptions of what we did with each grade level, followed by a link to resources we shared with families. If you haven’t participated in Hour of Code these ideas are a great way to get started!

SK (Senior Kindergarten…think Kindergarten): SK students participated in two different activities that revolved around BeeBots. BeeBots are small, simple robots that young children can program. SK students learned about the BeeBots through the BeeBot app and followed that up with using the actual BeeBots to travel to the various planets SKers had learned about during their Solar System unit.

1st Grade: 1st grade students engaged in an hour of code by being PeopleBots. PeopleBots are a people representation of the BeeBots used in SK and perviously by 1st grade. As peopleBots the 1st graders proacticed giving and receiving directions to make their way around obstacles. Following their PeopleBot activity, students learned about Kodable, an app and website that teaches elementary progamming.

2nd Grade: 2nd graders began with the PeopleBot activity to review how to give and receive directions. After that, the 2nd graders used Scratch Jr. to complete an introductory activity and create their own animated story.

During each SK through 2nd grade classes I began with a staged situation in which I had missed lunch or ate lunch so long ago and needed help making a snack. I had soy nut butter, jelly, bread, a napkin, plate and knife. I asked each class to direct me in making a soy nut butter and jelly snadwich. Needless to say, by the end of the week the bread was stale and I had my fill of soy nut butter sandwiches. Kudos to all my kiddos, because most of them did a really good job of walking me through making my sandwich.

3rd Grade: 3rd graders completed an non-tech programming activity called Graph Paper Programming. In this activity students paired off; one being the programmer and one being a “robot.” The programmer wrote a programm designed to guide the “robot” through coloring in squares on a graph. Once completed, the “robot” followed the program to recreate the drawing. Following the non-tech activity, 3rd graders worked their way through the BotLogic website.

4th Grade: Like the 3rd graders, 4th graders started with Graph Paper Programming. Following that, students were introduced to Code Monkey, a website that asks students to type lines of code to complete challenges.

5th through 7th Grade: In each class we had discussions about what coding/programming is and why someone would learn to program. Most revolved around the idea that the students wouldn’t be able to do much of what they do now without someone to create the program. Following our discussions, students were introduced to the site Code Combat, which teaches Python or Java Script through a game. Students must type the code to battle ogers or protect villagers.

Code Combat was my favorite coding activity. Before I could engage my students I had to know what they would be doing. So, I had to spend time working through the challenges. It’s a tough job, but someone has to do it.

Overall, our Hour of Code went really well, engaged students, and opened their eyes to the joy of programming. You can see some of the resources we share with families HERE.


Green With Envy

by Briana in iPads, Science Comments: 0

photo credit: leg0fenris via photopin cc

photo credit: leg0fenris via photopin cc

In early April I met with my 3rd grade team and they mentioned doing a green screen project in Science. Well, well, well! Little did they know I had just ordered a green screen! I’m a mind reader, in case you didn’t know. 🙂

So, they give me the rundown on the project. The kiddos were studying weather and climate and the teachers decided to have students take their research, data and graphs and turn it into a weather forecast. Love it! Let’s get started!

So I said. But, if you know anything about technology things don’t always go as planned. It started with the arrival of the green screen kit. It is a great kit with two lights, light boxes, stands, a green backdrop, and backdrop stand. Awesome! I was SO excited to open the box and break out the setup. I unzipped the case and gave it a once over…whoo hoo! We’re ready to go.

A day later I’m showing my colleague the setup and…screech of breaks…THERE’S NO GREEN SCREEN! AND NO STAND! Clearly I wasn’t paying attention when I opened the box! So, I email the company and wait. I hear back from them a day and a half later…they’re sending the green screen and stand and apologized for the inconvenience.


Great! We have everything; green screen, lights, the DoInk Green Screen App! Let’s roll! What is that I hear? Screeching breaks? AGAIN! Ever have one of those ideas that fights back? Well, this is one of them! I bought the Green Screen app, but our iPads do not have the most up to date iOS! No go with the app. On top of that, it’s the beginning of Passover Break…7 days off!

And we’re back! Time to update the iPads; one of my favorite tasks!

Eventually, we’ll get to the project. Until next time!


Stuck in the Mud

Photo by Paul Harrop

Photo by Paul Harrop

Bottom line…without mistakes, risks, or errors we wouldn’t be where we are today. Why, then, does the educational system discourage this in our students?

I wrote that back in 2009 (!) after reading this blog post, by Liz B. Davis: Putting Gladwell’s Compensatory Model into Practice or NECC 09 Keynote Part 2. In my post A Compensatory Model of Education I wrote about my frustration with education’s focus on students getting the right answers rather than learning from the process and continually improving.

Here it is, 2014. For the last couple of years the theories behind game design and design thinking have been filtering into educational thought, but not having a direct impact in the mainstream classroom. The Maker movement is popular again causing innovative schools to rethink their space in order to create tinkering labs or innovation spaces. I think this is great. My school is currently considering its own innovation lab. The problem? These movements do not address what Gladwell, Liz Davis and I wrote about years ago: failure; specifically embracing a culture of failure throughout education. Yes, these ideas encourage and even require failure, but the ideas seem to be relegated to special “labs” or a particular unit rather than day to day classroom practice.

Design thinking, game design and tinkering all require failure and learning from that failure. They involve ideating, iteration, prototyping, testing; a messy process that can send you back to any point in the process at any time. When do you do this in the classroom? Do you assess your students on how they have improved? On the steps they took to get to a product? The persistance they showed in completing a task? Or are you simply looking to see that the student got the answer you were looking for or created a project that looked like a replica of the example?

This is where we are stuck in the mud. High stakes testing, comparison to other students, the pressure to get into a good high school, let alone good college, all put teachers in a situation that discourages do overs and failure. Sure, maybe a student can correct mistakes on a test to improve a grade, but the grade is still based on getting the correct answer on the test.

Here we are, amlost five years later, and I’m still asking the same question: Why do schools discuourage failure? I know it’s improving and I do what I can to encourage students to take risks, make mistakes and try again. The issue isn’t simply a personal  decision to cultivate failure, but a cultural mindset. All we can do is keep encouraging failure in our classrooms, educating policy makers about the importantance of process over product and reassure parents that their child will survive, thrive even, if they fail.

A more interactive IWB? Try Triptico!

by Briana in IWB Resources Comments: 0 tags: iwb, triptico

I saw this last spring and downloaded it to use myself, but was just reminded of it by @coolcatteacher…Triptico!

Triptico is a collection of 23 interactive resources designed for IWBs. Activities include Word Magnets, Class Timer, random students selectors, team point scoreboards, Find Ten, student groups, Text Spinner, Question Quiz, Match It, Class Vote and more!

The Word Magnets is similar to the Magnet Poetry; you enter a bunch of words (copy and paste a list) and moveable “magnets” are created. There are 42 different backgrounds associated with Word Magnets, so students can categorize, create Venn diagrams, ABC lists, bulls eyes, process charts and much more. If you forget a word or want to add more (a student’s suggestion!), you can quickly add and delete words. You can also change the background board color or the color of the magnets, meaning I can color code my parts of speech or herbivores, carnivores and omnivores!

The Find 10 let’s teachers enter a topic and create 15 facts, some related and other not, for students to identify. This would also work well for classifying items, synonyms, a Who am I and more!

There are other great interactive activities and useful, reusable classroom management tools. Enjoy!

ActivInspire FINALLY has an equation editor!

Calling all Math teachers! ActivInspire 1.6 finally incorporates an equation editor. No more taking snapshots of equations in Math Type or Word to past into flipcharts. Click the image to the right to view the ActivTip flipchart and see how this great new feature works!

This version of ActivInspire also includes an Extend Page button giving you more room for brainstorming, the option to remove the Pen icon and the ability to switch between Select and Pen with a right-click (yay!). Check out all of the new features on Promethean Planet’s ActivTip video page!